(Los Angeles, CA)–Thousands of protesters have written, faxed or called Florida Governor Crist and Florida Department of Children & Families officials this week to protest the DCF’s actions in the “Elian Gonzalez II” case. DCF continues to deny Rafael Izquierdo custody of his five-year-old daughter, even though a Florida court has found him to be a fit, committed father. The campaign, which has been covered by the Associated Press, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and others, is being led by Fathers & Families, a national fatherhood advocacy organization, and fatherhood columnist/radio commentator Glenn Sacks. Protesters are asking DCF to drop its case and its appeal against the father.

In the “Elian Gonzalez II” case, a Cuban mother brought her young daughter to the US, but quickly deteriorated psychologically. DCF found that she had abused and neglected the five-year-old girl, and properly placed her in temporary foster care. Yet DCF made no attempt to contact the girl’s father in Cuba, even though it had his name and phone number. Moreover, once Izquierdo learned of the situation and came to the US to get his little girl, DCF ginned up a series of now-discredited accusations against him.

In September, District 11 (Miami) Judge Jeri B. Cohen ruled that Izquierdo is a fit parent who did not abandon his daughter. According to the girl’s court-appointed therapist, Izquierdo has re-established the loving bonds he shares with his daughter, and the girl has made a “very telling transition…not only intellectually, but emotionally” (Miami Herald, 10/4/07). Yet Florida DCF is still doing everything it can to malign Izquierdo and wrest custody away from him, spending over a quarter million dollars to do so.

Holstein explains:

“DCF has now appealed the judge’s ruling, meaning that this father and his daughter will have their lives put on hold even longer. We want DCF to get out of this girl’s life, to let her grow up in the loving care of her father, and to respect the right of fit parents to raise their own children free of government interference.”

Sacks adds:

“It is important to understand that this case is not an aberration, but instead reflects widespread practices. According to an Urban League report, few fathers in these types of cases are allowed to reunite with their children who are instead pushed into the foster care system. It is an outrageous violation of parents’ rights.”

To DCF’s credit, Patricia Badland, Director of DCF’s Children and Families Family Service Program, has contacted Dr. Holstein to set up a meeting next week. 

The campaign organizers urge supporters to join the protest via www.GlennSacks.com/Elian2.

www.GlennSacks.com, Glenn Sacks

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